Big Sharks + Great Group = RJD Love

Friday, June 24th 2011

This Friday we went to our outer reef site with an enthusiastic group from the Miami Science Museum’s Impact Program, which was great because the lines at the reef are twice as long and the more help pulling in the lines the better.

Miami Museum of Science’s Impact Program raise their shark fins as a good omen. Click to enlarge.

The last few trips have been a bit slow, so we were hoping for some big sharks and lots of them – and we weren’t disappointed!  Our first catch of the day was a seven-foot nurse shark, and then we pulled in a seven and a half foot lemon shark. After pulling the shark aboard, our volunteers for the day did a great job measuring the shark and getting samples.

RJD shark catching sensei, Dominique Lazarre, pulls in a nurse shark. Click to enlarge.

We definitely had a lot of sharky mojo going on, because the next shark we pulled in was an eight-foot bull shark.  Since these sharks are more threatened than other sharks in the area, we attached a satellite tag to him so that we will be able to follow his movements.

Volunteers and interns hard at work with a mother-ship of a bull shark. Click to enlarge.

The last shark of the day was a twelve-foot great hammerhead, which is the largest hammerhead species.  These sharks are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature because they’re targeted for their fins and are often bycatch in commercial fisheries.  Unfortunately, this shark was exceptionally feisty so we weren’t able to put a satellite tag on him.

Unsuccessful at tagging, but successful just by being in the midst of such a beautiful creature. Great hammerhead. Click to enlarge.

Catching large sharks is a sign that the area is very productive; unfortunately we only caught a few sharks – a further sign of decreasing populations.

Piper Wallingford, RJD Intern

(Photos by Christine Shepard)

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